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When Sheppard comes out from behind the curtain, McKay can actually feel his brain die, just a little bit. But enough.

The Yassacans said they would 'transform' the Atlanteans' leader so that 'his outside reflects his inner being'. McKay thought it was a load of crap, but they needed the Yassacan's raw materials. He thought they'd throw a couple of leaves on Sheppard and smear some coal on his body.

But no.

Out walks a demigod. McKay has to put down his strange fruit so he doesn't squeeze it into a pulp.

Out walks...oh, god. Sheppard, but so incredibly more. For one, they smeared coal around his eyes and this shimmery chalk-like substance on his lips and draped him in dramatic silk-like dark green and black robes and guh, Rodney's IQ drops seventy below zero when Sheppard self-consciously smirks a little, as if to say 'is it that bad?' and he has no idea. McKay wonders, this is his inner being?

The Yassacans nod their heads solemnly to Sheppard as they pass by him. He takes his seat opposite McKay.

McKay notices out of the corners of his eyes that the rest of the team has somewhat of the same reaction. None of them have ever seen Sheppard in anything less than civvies.

Teyla's eyebrows are as high as they can go. Ronon looks predatory, and that freaks McKay out a little bit.

But the silence has gone on too long. "So, um," McKay starts, but stops when he finds his voice hoarse. He drinks too much Yassacan Ale and his eyes wander over the rim of the cup to Sheppard again.

The rest of the evening goes on rather silently, and at the end of it, everyone is rather drunk and Sheppard is blushing quite vividly, the rosy blush extending down his chest and into the silky folds of his garment.

As soon as Sheppard and McKay get back to their respective rooms, McKay grabs Sheppard's shoulder and tugs him into his room.

"Hey!" Sheppard rubs at his shoulder and smears some coal along the muscle and McKay wants to lick it off.

"Have you seen a mirror?"

"Duh, Rodney, they haven't discovered mirrors yet." But he's got that suspicious expecting-the-worst look on his beautifully painted face.

McKay shuffles around in his tac vest and pulls out a tiny mirror. He holds it up.

Sheppard freezes.

For thirty seconds, Sheppard stares at his reflection and all color washes out of his face. And then he starts rubbing at his eyes, his lips, his body, succeeding in doing nothing but smearing the substance in inky swirls across his skin. McKay grabs his wrists.

"Hey, look, you're just making it worse!" but Sheppard doesn't stop, just yanks his wrists free and practically scratches the top layer of his skin off. "Hey, Sheppard! Stop!" But he doesn't, so McKay makes him.

He lunges forward, grabs Sheppard's wrists again and kisses him. It's not an elegant kiss. Their teeth crash together and their noses smash but it does make Sheppard freeze again.

McKay pulls away, eyes tightly closed for fear of Sheppard's expression. But there's silence so he opens his eyes curiously.

Sheppard's coal-smudged eyes look dark and wide and altogether hypnotizing. His shimmery mouth is open slightly, lips tinged red and wet so wet and McKay thinks That's my fault, that's my saliva on his lips, I put that look on his face. and then oh my god I just kissed John Sheppard, AIR FORCE and best friend and he's going to kill me, he's going to-

Sheppard kisses McKay. It's not elegant either but it has passion and desperation and eagerness, all wrapped up in tongue and lips and the hot wet sanctuary of Sheppard's mouth. And it has the reverse effect, it freezes McKay until there's a minute whine in the back of Sheppard's throat and it flips a switch in McKay's body and he can't get close enough to Sheppard, can't keep his hands from exploring every fucking inch of his body.

Sheppard's sweat melts the coal from his skin, smearing it onto McKay's hands as they slide, slide, under the silken wrappings and against warm sweet skin.

And then Sheppard tugs the silk from his skin and he's fucking naked and covered in dripping black designs and he's the most beautiful thing McKay has ever seen, in any museum or photography book or fantasy ever.

Later, as Sheppard slides his dirty wet body alongside McKay's, McKay knows knows that the Yassacans were right, that Sheppard is this beautiful, this shocking, this sexy inside. McKay's known it all along. The transformation Sheppard went through wasn't really a transformation, but an outward expression of everything he's been all along.

The real transformation was them, was Mckay and Sheppard into us.